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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Femme Fatale

The character of Brenda Carnegie in Exit 22 was inspired by Kathleen Turner more than 20 years before Exit 22 was published.

In 1981, Kathleen Turner starred with William Hurt in the movie Body Heat. Her voice was deep, sultry and hypnotic. It would be the kind of voice that Christopher Sandige described in Exit 22 as "husky, the kind of voice a woman wakes up with but is gone before her lipstick is on" when describing Brenda Carnegie.

In Body Heat, Kathleen Turner sizzles. It was that sexiness that I tried to convey with Brenda Carnegie, the type of woman who instantly has a hold on the man she makes love to... Even when the man begins to wonder if she's operating on the wrong side of the law.

In Exit 22, Christopher Sandige is a political strategist who is traveling south on Interstate 95 when he's involved in an automobile accident at Exit 22 in North Carolina. Stranded for the weekend in Lumberton, he meets Brenda Carnegie and is instantly attracted. Her eyes are such a light shade of brown that they turn amber in some lights, and he finds himself mesmerized by them. The eyes were inspired by this picture.

Even when Chris is pulled into a double homicide and finds himself running from the law and a sociopathic assassin determined to kill him and Brenda, he can not pull himself away from her, preferring to risk losing everything simply to have her.

Brenda is the type of woman who is equally at home seducing a man, tramping through alligator-infested swamps, or using her computer expertise to make millions in illegal activities.

And at the end of Exit 22, I was inundated with requests to bring her back.

Well, now my fans will have their wish.

Exit 22 has been spun off into a series entitled Black Swamp Mysteries. The next book is Vicki's Key, which will be released in March 2012. Christopher Sandige is back and he's looking for Brenda. His obsession will culminate in the third book of the series, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, due to be released in September 2012.

You've probably guessed that the dangerous woman is Brenda Carnegie... And you'll learn that her illegal activities in Exit 22 were just the tip of the iceberg. Now she has secrets so explosive that she can bring down an entire government.

If you haven't read Exit 22 yet, you'll want to before the next two books are released in 2012. Through October 31, the book is on sale for only 99 cents in the Kindle edition. On November 1, it will return to $6.99.

Thank you, Kathleen Turner, for the inspiration.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Hired Assassin

My most popular suspense/thriller, Exit 22, begins with a hired assassin arriving at the home of a young couple. He is methodical. Precise. Prepared. Logical. He kills the young man without remorse. When his wife arrives home unexpectedly, he must kill her, also. His only regret is he used two bullets when one would have been sufficient, but the double-tap comes naturally to him.

Once he is finished with his hit, he returns to his hotel and spends the evening in the lobby knitting baby booties.

The character of Joseph Gabucci was inspired in part by the role of the assassin in Three Days of the Condor starring Robert Redford. I learned a lot from that movie, released in 1975. It was based on a book entitled Seven Days of the Condor but the timeframe was shortened to ramp up the suspense. It was a lesson I would use many times in the writing of my own books.

The assassin in the movie was played by Max von Sydow. He is mild-mannered, methodical, precise. You would never suspect him as a hired assassin. In his spare time, he repairs clocks. He was hired to kill Joe, the character played by Robert Redford. In the scene below, he is speaking to Joe after he decides not to kill him because he has gained respect for Joe's sense of survival.

It was this character I had in mind when I developed Joseph Gabucci, the hired assassin in Exit 22. I came across his hobby of knitting baby booties quite unexpectedly. I had a visiting author friend, Dirk Robertson, from Scotland. In his spare time, Dirk enjoys knitting and is quite successful with it, launching a business in which his items are sold in the most exclusive stores in the world. I found it fascinating that a man who appeared on the outside to be ready to play rugby could so easily adapt to a hobby as quaint and unassuming as knitting.

When Exit 22 was released, it turned out that the assassin's hobby made him even more terrifying. He crossed over the line to be more of a sociopathic assassin, incapable of feeling, simply killing as a means of making a living, with no remorse.

Since Exit 22 has launched an entire series, you'll see Joseph Gabucci again, and he will become even more terrifying than his initial appearance. He is, after all, a cold-blooded killer.

Who scared you the most in movies or books?

Exit 22 Kindle edition is on sale now at amazon for only 99 cents. The next book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, Vicki's Key, will be released in March 2012. The third book in the series, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, will be released in September 2012.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Theme Song is Your Book?

I haven't posted anything in a long time. Between my fall book tour (cut short due to upcoming surgery), editing Book # 13 and writing Book # 14, I've had a very full schedule.

Perhaps because of impending surgery, I've wanted to become lost in my new series, Black Swamp Mysteries, and the characters, setting, and plot. The series was inspired by the success of Exit 22, my most popular contemporary suspense/thriller. Since the book's release, I've had so many people ask me what happened to Brenda Carnegie, Christopher Sandige, Alec Brodie - and even the assassin, Joseph Gabucci - that I had to revisit their adventures and expand upon them.

The result is a series with an ensemble cast. Think of a television series such as True Blood, where you have some characters rise to the forefront for awhile, then take more of a back seat while others move up. That will be the journey you'll embark upon in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, while all of the characters are forever tied together through something that happens in their lives.

Exit 22 introduced Christopher Sandige as a political strategist driving from New York to Florida when he is involved in an automobile accident at Exit 22 in North Carolina. Stranded for the weekend in Lumberton, he meets a beautiful but mysterious woman, Brenda Carnegie, and immediately becomes embroiled in a double homicide. As they flee from Alec Brodie, the detective leading the investigation, they find a hired assassin hot on their heels as well. While Alec wants to capture them, Joseph wants to kill them.

While writing the scenes between Chris and Brenda, I listened to Paul McCartney's song, This Never Happened Before. Chris had been a workaholic, so engrossed in his work that he came home each night to an empty house and never had time for dating, much less a relationship. But when he meets the mysterious Brenda, he is immediately captivated. There is something about her light brown eyes that could appear almost amber in some lights, her long, wavy copper hair, and her secrecy that intrigues him. She seems to be everything he is not: comfortable with sloshing through alligator-infested swamps on the run, street-wise, living on the wrong side of the law, flying through life by the seat of her pants, not to mention her amazing sex appeal, that he finds irresistible.

The problem, he soon finds, is whether to believe this woman he's falling in love with... Or face the possibility that she is a killer.

This Never Happened Before is Chris' and Brenda's song.

If you chose a scene from your book - or an overall theme song - what would it be?

Exit 22 Kindle edition is on sale only through October 31 for 99 cents (regular price is $6.99). The printed edition is also available. The next book in the series, Vicki's Key, will be released in March 2012 and the third book in the series (as yet untitled) is due for release in September 2012.